The minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehinare yesterday said Nigeria is ranked 1st in Africa and 6th globally in the 2020 WHO Global TB report, among the 30 high TB burden countries.
He made this known in Abuja in his speech to commemorate this years world Tuberculosis day.
According to him, Nigeria is also on the list of 14 countries with the triple burden of TB, HIV associated TB and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
“The main drivers of the TB burden in Nigeria are under-nutrition, HIV, diabetes, smoking and alcohol use, with over 400,000 estimated TB cases in 2019. The working age group of Nigerians, 15 – 44 years, is most affected by TB morbidity and mortality, with over 150,000 estimated TB deaths in 2019.
“Based on the foregoing, tackling TB is highly prioritised in Nigeria. In line with government’s effort to ensure good health and well-being for all Nigerians as envisioned in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), through the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and with the support of partners, has initiated a number of interventions with some remarkable achievements.
“The government established the National TB and Leprosy Training Centre (NTBLTC), Zaria to undertake human resource development for the control of TB, with regular training of Health Care Workers on diagnosis and management of TB, including drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). To this end, WHO recommendations for TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention have been adapted, to provide the overall roadmap for the prevention and control of TB in Nigeria. Interventions to improve access to TB services include: Number of installed GeneXpert machines expanded from 32 in 2012 to 403 currently, with an additional 102 machines expected;
TB reference laboratories increased from 6 in 2010 to 11 currently; TB treatment (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) centres in public and private facilities expanded from 3,931 in 2010 to 17,699 in 2020; 28 sub-national governments now have treatment centres for clinical management of DR-TB; Ambulatory services for DR-TB patients further decentralised to communities across the country; Provision of free chest x-ray support for TB diagnosis; Screening of all out-patients department (OPD) attendees in all tertiary health facilities and an average of 5 secondary health facilities per state.
He also added,”In order to promote community ownership of TB control and discourage stigmatisation of presumptive and confirmed TB patients, community TB interventions are implemented through community-based organisations. Community contribution to our national TB case notification rose to 22% in 2019. we have now scaled up to all states. This has demonstrated incremental value to TB notification; from 12% private sector contribution in 2018 to as high as 45% in some states. Collaboration with private laboratories for GeneXpert services has also improved TB diagnosis.
Dr. Ehinare however called on Nigerians to continue to support the sensitisation process by spreading the following messages while observing COVID-19 protocols. TB is curable, Persistent cough for two or more weeks could be TB; Diagnosis and treatment of TB are available free of charge in all DOTS and DR-TB treatment centres Nationwide Our toll-free help-line for TB is 3340.
World TB day is a global event commemorated on the 24th of March every year to raise public awareness on TB and efforts made to prevent and treat the disease. It also affords an opportunity to assess progress towards achieving our END TB strategy and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.